It's amazing how the spiral of the year has turned us here already. Our school is also turning. By the time you are hearing this, have already enjoyed our Chanukah party with lots of dreidles, fair-trade chocolate gelt, pin the shamash on the chanukiah and of course song and stories.
The big news from this month includes the inauguration of our Ukulele Orchestra! We now have 10 Ukuleles for Jane's class and older kids too for connecting with Hebrew through song and instruments. We are starting a CBI Community Hebrew School Arts Fund for projects to help bring more arts based programming into the school.
For young children, art is not just a narrow discipline, to be contrasted with science or other topics. Instead, art is a way into full concentration that is centered around Jewish concepts...learning Hebrew words to sing a song or to play the ukulele, learning Torah stories to dress up and act, focusing on Hebrew calligraphy to write letters beautifully and more. You'll notice an email being sent out next week that will invite all those who wish to see our school thrive and our children immersed in Jewish learning to help contribute in whatever ways are possible.
Another new feature that is happening on Monday December 14 will be Student led conferences, where the students will share with parents highlights from the semester of learning. With guidance from the teacher, the student will prepare to share not only content highlights, but also character highlights too- how they were as a student and ways they can become better students. After all, none of us are ever perfect and we all have our growing edges.
Inside our classrooms saw the completion of Rabbi Jarah's game creation project. At Chanukah the whole school will spend some time playing these games that are all constructed around the Shema. Jane's class developed the play of Noah and took it to the nursing home last week. Reb Rachel's bnai mitzvah students have been exploring Mitzvot and have made short videos describing their experiences.
What else to share? How about I'll leave you with George Washington. I'm not sure if this is true, but this is what I've heard: "You know it was a hard winter in Valley Forge, right? The fighting was terrible. it was bitter cold Could the ragtag revolutionary army continue? Could they make it through the winter? General Washington was not sure. He decided to go undercover, incognito and try to assess the morale of his army. It was worse than he thought. There were not enough winter coats to go around, clothes were becoming worn, boots were developing holes. The tired despair was felt as he silently went from fire to fire.
But then, he spied a small group of men gathered around a log. Curiously, they were singing softly. He noticed they were lighting a few sticks that were ontop of a big log. He pulled his hood close and went over and asked what they were doing. It turns out, this small group of men were Jews in the Revolutionary Army. They had gathered around to celebrate Chanukah, the holiday of lights. They were remembering a time, nearly 2000 years previously, when the syrian-greeks began to make laws that prevented Jews from being Jews. They were terrible like the British army is today. Than a great hero, Judah Maccabbee rose up, he's kind of like General Washington. He inspired the Jews to rise up, to fight back, that even though we were outnumbered, we could achieve great things if we worked together! And we did. And another great miracle happened too...When we reclamed our temple, one day of sacred oil burned to last 8 days until we could make some more. Normally we would light candle, but because we are here, we are lighting these sticks to remember that this is the season of hope and miracles. The strangers disappeared saying through choked tears 'Thank you good men. Blessings and good tidings for us all."